The US President’s symptoms continue to improve and now include “less troublesome” sore throat, runny nose, loose cough and body aches, according to his physician, Dr Kevin O’Connor. Biden’s lungs remain clear and his oxygen saturation “continues to be excellent on room air,” the doctor said.
Dr O’Connor confirmed that Biden most likely had the BA5 variant which has been being reported in high numbers globally.
Biden was initially “experiencing very mild symptoms” and is taking the antiviral medicine Paxlovid, his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, while White House Covid coordinator Dr Ashish Jha said Mr Biden was tired, with a runny nose and dry cough.
The 79-year-old, who is fully vaccinated and has received two booster jabs, will isolate at the White House and continue to carry out all his duties, including taking part in meetings via telephone and Zoom, a statement added.
Consistent with White House protocol, the president will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative, Ms Jean-Pierre said.
First Lady Jill Biden, who tested negative while in Delaware, said she had spoken to her husband and he was “doing fine”.
She said: “He’s feeling good. I tested negative this morning. I’m going to keep my schedule. According to CDC guidelines, I’m keeping masked.”
In a memo to Ms Jean-Pierre, Mr Biden’s physician Kevin O’Connor said he thought the president would respond favourably due to being fully vaccinated and twice boosted, adding that the early use of Paxlovid provided “additional protection against severe disease”.
Dr Jha said Mr Biden went to bed feeling fine but did not sleep well and then tested positive on Thursday morning.
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Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said while the new variants are concerning, with boosters, indoor masking and treatments, the US has the tools to keep them from being disruptive.
He said: “We should not let it disrupt our lives, but we cannot deny that it is a reality that we need to deal with.”
Dr Fauci emphasised that even those who recently had COVID-19 should get a booster, saying “Immunity wanes, so it is critical to stay up to date with COVID 19 vaccines.”
The BA.5 variant is estimated to be causing around 65 percent of infections in the US. First identified in January, it has been tracked by the WHO since April.